Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by India, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The very first civilizations in Nepal thrived in the sixth century B.C.E., but their existence was limited to the fertile area around the Kathmandu Valley. It was here that Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 B.C.E. and attained enlightenment as Buddha later leading to the spread of the philosophy. Eventually it gave way to Hinduism, partly due to the increased impact of India near the 12th century.
The early settlers of the region were mostly emigrants of Mongoloid groups out of Tibet and Indo-Aryans from northern India. The Indo-Aryans today form the majority of the country’s population with Tibetan-Nepalese making up a significant minority.
The southern portion of the country is a narrow strip of fairly flat Ganges River plain also called the Tarai. It is partially forested and partially cultivated. Moving further towards the north, is the central region of the country forming the slope of the main Himalayan range and finally the northern most part of the country is made up of the Himalayan Mountain Range. The country’s highest peak is also the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. The lowest point of the country is Kanchan Kalan at 230 feet (70 m) above sea level. The tiny country is home to roughly ninety peaks that range over 7,000 metres (22,966 ft.).
Nepal has an agriculture based economy which accounts for approximately one-half of the GNP and employs greater than ninety percent of its workforce. Less than 20% of its total area is arable and agriculture productivity is fairly. While the industrial sector is growing, it accounts for less than 10% of the GNP and employs less than 1% of the total workforce.
The favourite pastime of the locals includes music and dance. Drums and wind instruments, a necessary part of religious ceremonies have been preserved for centuries. Devotional songs with elements of classical and folk tunes make up a vital segment of most religious and family celebrations. Classical dancing in addition to trance-like masked dancing, singing and socializing are the highlights of Kathmandu Valley and Bhaktapur regions.
Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Major Cities: Biratnagar, 174,600, Lalitpur
Government: Federal republic, Federation, Republic
Official language: Nepali Language
Religion: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam
Area: 147,181 sq km (56,826 sq mi)
Currency: Nepalese rupee